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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Thomas G. Nelson

First Committee Member

Marilyn Draheim

Second Committee Member

Elizabeth Haydon Keithcart

Third Committee Member

Christine M. Kerfoot


This qualitative study inquired into the ways university-based teacher educators who taught in elementary grades had come to understand and describe their professional identity within the context of higher education. Additionally, the study explored their personal motives in becoming a teacher educator and the challenges and received support as they transitioned into higher education. Further, it investigated how their previous teaching experiences and identity were relevant to their new roles and identity as university-based teacher educators, and how they have come to understand their beliefs about teaching and learning within the context of higher education.

This study followed a qualitative, narrative research design which explored the beginning experiences of four teacher educators who contributed data through standardized open-ended interviews and focused journal entries. As the respondents transitioned from their K-12 experiences into doctoral studies and teaching at the university, they were impacted by opportunities, challenges, support, and a shifting identity, the major themes of this study. The respondents used their teaching experiences, teaching philosophy, and aspects of their K-12 pedagogical practices to navigate their new roles and responsibilities as teacher educator.

The results of the study’s analysis demonstrated the importance of providing more explicit training and mentoring for new university-based teacher educators in order to gain a deeper understanding of their roles and responsibilities in higher education. With that added layer of support, they would have more opportunity to acclimate and develop professionally within the university context.



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